Time Line Survey of Bible Events
Endeavoring to establish an unquestionable time line of Bible events is not only extremely difficult, such an effort is humanly impossible. Notice, I said "an unquestionable time line." There are some dates about which we can be reasonably sure, based on supporting and reliable historical provided dates (also numbers mentioned in the Bible that often provide cross-reference ability). We are then able to use the provided date to ascertain the approximate date of the Bible event under consideration. The Bible sometimes contains numbers (i.e. I Kgs. 6: 1), but does not provide dates as such. This absence of dates is because the Jewish people did not develop a system of consecutive dating. They began a new year with each new Judge or King.
Some King James Translations contain printed dates in the margin or in the center column references. This chronology or computation was developed by Irish Archbishop James Ussher in the seventeenth century. Ussher's chronology is based on ancestor tables found in the Hebrew scriptures. However, these biblical records were designed to provide lines of descent and the contained genealogies are sometimes incomplete. The genealogical records do, though, provide a valuable reference in attempting to compute Bible event dates. Another matter that prevents totally accuracy is the practice of the Jewish people considering part of a year as a full year in determining time. Also, in reckoning the kings of Israel and Judah they appear to have used different calendars, one calendar that covered from autumn to autumn (the Tishri calendar), and the other calendar covered from spring to spring (the Nisan calendar). In other words, if you are looking for flaws in the subsequent time line, you will, no doubt, find some. However, for the most part, the time line will provide a general time frame reference that will assist the Bible student in the organization, positioning, and establishing any immediate relevancy regarding the events mentioned in the Bible. It is confusing to people when they think the giving of the Ten Commandments was a New Testament event.
In some cases, I will provide multiple possible dates. For instance, you will find below the date of 1491 B.C. for the giving of the first written law to Israel (Ex. 20). You will also see the date 1445 B.C. as a suggested date. Time, space, and design limitations prevent me from providing you with all the arguments pro and con for a certain date and why another date might be preferred by some.
It will be obvious that the below time line survey consists of two main divisions, what we call B.C. and A.D. "AD" or "A.D." is from the Latin term, "Anno Domini", meaning "in the year of the Lord". It is supposed to refer to years counted from Christ's birth. However, because of some initial inaccuracies and uncertainty regarding the exact year Christ was born, there is probably a 4 to 8 year discrepancy (meaning Christ was probably born between 8 B.C. and 3 B.C.). Accordingly, BC or B. C. is usually used of before Christ. Based on some challenges attendant pertaining to the possible use of the Roman calendar debate, there can be a date difference in the New Testament events. For instance, some may have Jesus' resurrection set at 30 A.D., while others may compute it at 33 A. D. Again, it is beyond the scope of this material to engage in a detailed analysis of the date controversies. Still, the provided time line is generally accurate and reliable and of practical help, I am convinced. Since there are some serious difficulties in assigning 4004 B. C. as the date for creation (James Ussher's date), we shall begin the time line with the approximate date for the birth of Cain and Abel. Before I present the consecutive listings of Bible events and their approximate dates, allow me to illustrate the three major time periods into which all the subsequent finds a place, respectively:
Law of Moses
|Patriarchy covered a span of time of about 2500 years, from Genesis chapter four until Exodus chapter 20. It involved the head or the patriarch of each house.||The Law of Moses began in Exodus chapter 20 with the Ten Commandment Law and continued until Jesus' last will and testament (Jn. 1: 17, ca. 1500 years).||Christianity came into existence in Acts chapter two with the preaching of the gospel and will continue until the second advent of Jesus. We are in the final days.|
4004 BC Adam and Eve's first two children are born, Cain and Abel (Gen. 4). Cain kills Abel (Ibid.)
3900 Enoch is born, Cain's first son. Seth is born to Adam and Eve. Irad, Cain's first grandchild, is born (Gen. 4).
3400 Enoch, the great, great, great, grandchild of Seth, is born. At this same general time period, Methuselah was born (Gen. 5)
3000 Noah is born (ca. 2948 B.C., Gen. 5: 29).
2500 Noah's sons are both, Shem, Ham, and Jepheth (Gen. 6: 9). It was about this time that Noah was commissioned to build the Ark (Gen. 6).
2350 The flood waters cover the entire earth (Gen. 7). (James Ussher suggest 2349 as the flood date, the Samaritan Pentateuch has 2998, the Hebrew Bible has 2288, and the Septuagint lists 3246 has the date of the flood). Noah's three sons began to repopulate the earth (Gen. 9: 1).
2300 The Tower of Babel and its destruction (Gen. 11). The confusion of tongues and the scattering of the people.
2000 The death of Noah (ca. 1998 B. C., Gen. 9: 28, 29).
1920 The call of Abram occurs at about this time (Gen. 12: 1). Abram and Lot depart Haran, as God instructed. God promised to make a great nation (Gen. 12). A son is promised to Abram (Gen. 15).
1890 The destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah and the cities of the plain (Gen. 19). The birth of Isaac, Abram's promised son (Gen. 19, 21: 3).
1872 Abraham is put to a test regarding Isaac (Gen. 22).
1730 Joseph is sold to the Midianites and his consequent experiences that result in him becoming a ruler in Egypt (Gen. 37 - 47).
1680 The Book of Genesis comes to a close, having covered approximately 2300 years of history.
1571 Moses is born . Moses is adopted into the Egyptian royal court.
1491 The call of Moses and his commission (the burning bush experience, Ex. 2). The ten plagues (Ex. 7 - 12). Israel is liberated from Egyptian bondage (Ex. 12 ff.). The giving of the Ten Commandment Law (Ex. 20, some provide the date of 1445 for the giving of the law). Hence, after about 2, 500 years the system of Patriarchy comes to a close.
1451 The death of Moses (Deut. 34). Joshua is appointed as Moses' successor (Josh. 1).
1425 The Abrahamic land promise is realized (Gen. 12; Josh. 24).
1400 The beginning of the judges and their governing of Israel, covering about 305 years (ca. 1095 B. C., see Judges 1 - I Samuel 8).
1095 The appointment of Saul to be King of Israel (I Sam. 10, some have 1050 as the date).
1063 David defeats Goliath (I Sam. 17).
1055 David is appointed King (2 Sam. 2, some have 1010 B. C.).
1015 Solomon, David's son, is appointed King (I Kgs. 1, 2, some believe 970 is the more likely time for the appointment of Solomon).
992 The Queen of Sheba visits Solomon (I Kgs. 10).
975 Solomon's death and Rehoboam succeeds Solomon to the throne (I Kgs. 12, some have 931 as the date). The Kingdom is divided. When Solomon died, the fight for his throne results in the twelve tribes of Israel dividing, creating the Great Schism. The two southern tribes, Benjamine and Judah, maintaining Jerusalem as their capital, become "The Kingdom of Judah" under the reign of Rehoboam. He reigns 17 years. The ten northern tribes of Israel revolt, becoming "The Kingdom of Israel" under the rulership of Jeroboam. He reigns 21 years. Israel's continues, with 19 Kings from the reign of Solomon, for 254 years. Israel makes Samaria its capitol.
722 The Assyrians capture Samaria and take Israel captive (cp. 2 Chroni. 33, end of the Kingdom of Israel).
597 Jerusalem is captured by Babylon (cp. 2 Chroni. 36).
536 First group returns from captivity (see Ezra 2).
458 The second group returns from bondage (Ezra 8).
444 The walls of Jerusalem are rebuilt under the leadership of Nehemiah (Nehe. 1-7).
398 The completion of the 39 books that constitute the "Old Testament" see Malachi). This date began the "400 years of silence" between Malachi and Matthew (New Testament).
New Testament Time Line (Most dates are approximate, the below time table is primarily based on Jesus being born in 3 BC, as some Roman calendars "suggest this date" for Jesus' birth):
6-3 BC Jesus and John the Baptist are born (many believe Jesus was actually born BC because of a matter involving the Roman Calendar, Luke 1, 2). Herod dies and is succeeded by Archelaus.
6 AD Annas becomes High Priest. Archelaus is deposed by Augustus and replaced by Herod Antipas.
7 A young Jesus astounds the priests in the Temple with his wisdom (Lk. 2).
14 Augustus dies and is succeeded by Tiberius as emperor.
15 Annas is removed as High Priest and son-in-law Caiaphas eventually succeeds him.
26 Pontius Pilate becomes Procurator of Judea until 36 AD.
27 John the Baptist began is ministry (Lk. 3: 1, 2). Jesus is baptized by John and also begins his ministry (Mk. 1: 4-11).
30 Jesus is crucified and resurrected from the dead (some scholars list the date as 33 AD. There are good arguments for both dates).
32 Gamaliel encourages tolerance of the Christians in his famous speech (Acts 5: 33-42).
36 Steven becomes the first martyr. It appears that about this same year, Paul is mentioned as persecuting Christians and later becoming a Christian himself (Acts 7, 9).
40 The Gentiles are officially received as exemplified in the case of Cornelius and his household (Acts 10). Caligula is assassinated and Claudius becomes emperor of Rome until 54 AD.
43 Paul and Barnabas preach the gospel in Antioch (Acts 11: 20-26).
44 Paul and Barnabas take contributions to Jerusalem from Antioch (Acts 11: 27-30). James, the brother of John, is put to death by Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12: 1-3).
46 Paul goes on his first preaching trip (Acts 13, 14, the first trip was probably 46-49 or part of 50 AD).
49 Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch after their first preaching trip (Acts 14).
50 The famous Jerusalem meeting in which the issue of the Christians of Jewish descent binding the Law of Moses on Christians of Gentile ancestry was discussed and debated (Acts 15).
51 Paul and Barnabas separate over John Mark (Acts 15: 36). Paul and Silas went on Paul's second organized preaching trip (Acts 15: 36 - 18: 23, about three years, 54 AD).
52 Some place the writing of Galatians and perhaps the Epistle of James at 52 AD.
54 Paul returns to Antioch of Syria, ending his second preaching trip (Acts 18: 22). There is great likelihood that the event mentioned in Galatians 2: 11-14 occurred at this time. It is believed to have also been 54 AD that Paul went on his third trip in preaching the gospel (Acts 18: 23).
56 It was during 55, 56 AD that Paul appears to have written I and 2 Corinthians.
58 Paul begins his return trip to Jerusalem (Acts 20: 3).
59 Paul is arrested and imprisoned in Caesarea for two years (Acts 22-24).
60 Some believe Mark and Matthew were written in 60 AD.
62 After two years, it is believed that Nero found Paul innocent of wrongdoing and Paul is set free (Acts 28). It was during this confinement in Rome that Paul wrote his prison epistles (Ephesians, Colossians, etc.). Acts would then cover a span of about 30 years and is a valuable source of information relative to inception, growth, and problems experienced by the early church.
64 Rome burns and Nero blames the Christians. As a result severe persecution against Christians is experienced.
66 Some list 66 AD as the time of Paul's second imprisonment. Paul apparently is put to death at this time (cp. 2 Tim. 4: 6-8).
70 The Temple at Jerusalem is destroyed as prophesied by Jesus (Matt. 24).
81 Domitian is appointed emperor and eventually begins severe persecution of Christians.
85 The writing of Second and Third John.
96 John is on the Island of Patmos to receive visions that constitute the Book of Revelation. John is believed to have died in Ephesus in 100 AD. With the death of the apostles, the age of inspiration came to a close (see Jude 3).